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Leadership article

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Krampus, I wouldn't be furious, I would be having a SMC with the boy who took only his pack about Scout Spirit and helping other people at all times.  Yes, it is your job and yes, while you are on this outing you are everyone's Mom, and (in my troop, Rule #2, act like a scout, i.e. Mom) if you can't get your head wrapped around that, I will find it difficult to mark the successful completion of the Scout Spirit requirement.  It's not a threat, it is letting the boy know he's making things difficult for you to be honest with signing off when he's doing things that are obvious working against it.

 

 

I let his SM know. His (the SM's) response was similar to the boy's. I saw very quickly how the SM's attitude drove the boys.

 

I had a kind word for our Scout who did his good deed. His patrol received dessert from the camp director noting his good deed got them extra dessert. ;)

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I let his SM know. His (the SM's) response was similar to the boy's. I saw very quickly how the SM's attitude drove the boys.

 

I had a kind word for our Scout who did his good deed. His patrol received dessert from the camp director noting his good deed got them extra dessert. ;)

 

We can't be held responsible for the deeds of others, but I'm glad the boys that did show leadership were appropriately recognized for it.

 

Not being in the driver's seat on issues like this can be difficult.  When I was an ASM in an adult-driven troop I had to play the game a lot differently than I do now as SM.

 

I had 4" pieces of different colored lanyard that I used to "reward" the various boys.  I let them know that those lanyards BELONGED TO ME, not them.  :)  If I caught a boy doing something nice for someone else, I would give them say a white lanyard piece to loop through the button hole on their right pocket.  If they were "caught" again and they had white, I would take that off and put on red, etc. this went on up the "scale" and it was remarkable how quickly they learned what each color meant.  :)  It was so successful that I continued the practice when I went on to become a SM.  What happened was that usually on Saturday night  at 10:00 pm, it was bedtime for the boys, but those with say Yellow (highest) were to toss on a log and stay up longer if they wished.  Nothing of major achievement, nothing to do with rank or advancement, nothing but what it meant between the boys and me.  The ironic part was when the boys had made a real mess with a burnt cobbler in a DO and it was pretty bad.  I turned to one of the boys with the yellow lanyard and asked him to clean it up.  He did it without saying a word.  Then when we were cleaning up the site to leave, I asked him to clean out the fire pit and get it ready for the next group.  Then when we were getting ready to leave he confronted me and and asked why I was picking on him by giving him the worst jobs in camp.  I told him I only asked him to do those jobs, it wasn't my job to dictate who does what job, but I knew the job was the worst one to do, but if I wanted the job done quickly, done right, and I wouldn't have to worry about it being done, I would need to ask my most trusted scout to do it. 

 

While I no longer use the lanyard technique, I still hear on occasion my PL's saying that the reason a certain scout got the dirty job is because he needed his best scout on the job.

 

Is that management or is that leadership?  :)

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I'm thinking what is mentioned as leadership styles might be what I define as management styles.  Those processes are easily defined and produce processes of efficiency for troop and patrol operations.  

Sometimes, but I wasn't talking about management in this case. I was talking about a culture of actions, attitudes and styles within the culture, especially from the leaders. The culture includes how scouts use the oath and law in all their actions and decisions. Our troop works towards a culture of what we call servant living. In other words scouts decisions and actions with serving others before oneself. Servant leadership is part of that culture and really sets the most powerful example. It's really an attitude that sets how scouts should treat each other. 

 

But my point was that servant lifestyle of leadership doesn't have to be taught or guided once the culture is set. The older role models instilled the attitude and leadership habits to the younger scouts simply by their actions. 

 

At the same time, if the scouts are showing some bad leadership habits, skills, or styles that aren't necessarily scout like or desired, it takes outside intervention to change culture and is done best by guiding the change at the older scout role models. 

 

I'm sure my points are were already obvious to most folks here, I just thought worth repeating since there was some discussion of training in their somewhere. 

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My boys find that the servant leadership role taken by the older boys is quickly recognized and the leader's popularity rises quickly for positive common benefit reasons, not personal gain, political reasons.  Boys quickly recognize this and peer pressure usually settles these issues far better than adult intervention.

 

At times adult intervention might become necessary, but as one has pointed out, once the culture has been established and the social norms of helping others at all times becomes established, adult intervention becomes obsolete. 

 

A well versed TG will always make sure the NSP knows, that there are certain things we as a troop don't do.  We aren't an Eagle mill, we watch out for each other, we run the show well enough that the adults don't have an excuse to interfere, and if you really want to get your Eagle, your buddies will all work together to make it happen for you.

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Scouts. I'm finding that they are becoming more willing to take ownership of the calendar and are better at leading events as they focus more on the people. It's a paradox that they don't see and honestly most people never do. I never see that written anywhere. Instead there are vague ideas of leadership. The phrase take care of those under you is too abstract. It could easily be interpreted as "do their work for them". It's a good place to start but needs more.

The paperwork from the years when I was taking "junior" leadership training did not survive four family moves and my move to Ohio fifty years ago.

 

I recall:

 

Since our Scoutmaster, Mr. Smith, was the Council Training Chairman, the topics covered at the troop, district, and council level covered pretty much the same topics, only with more detail and more practical applications.

 

Training started with going over the Patrol Method as set out in The Handbook for Patrol Leaders, 1950 ed. 

 

We were responsible for our patrol and its members, to those members, and to the troop.  

 

We were encouraged to lead by consensus (by "agreement") and plan separate patrol activities (meetings, hikes, campouts, service projects) according to what the Scouts found most interesting. (I recall "Don't be a boss" being emphasized as contrasting with leading.)  

 

We  were given mimeograph copies of suggestions for themes and specific activity element to share with our patrols.  Some of them showed how activities would help pass advancement requirements.

 

We were given planning forms and sample equipment and supply lists for meetings, hikes, campouts, and service projects

 

There were presentations on planning process (Although "process was not used.): goals; resources needed; written plan; communicating plan to all involved; checking up with those involved as the event neared to be sure all were informed/ready; always thinking about if the plan would work; and AFTERWARDS discussing what worked/what didn't/how to improve - all in a positive way.

 

We were told to get to know each Scout in the patrol as much as possible and to be a friend to each of them. (At council training, there was a skit "Why is Bobby unhappy?" that was about paying attention to each Scout as an individual

 

Correct in private; praise in public.

 

We were told that example is the best way to lead Scouts to good behaviors.  ("Follow me" vs. "Go.")

 

Troop structure was discussed.

 

We were told we represented our patrol at the Patrol Leaders Council and kept the patrol informed about what went on at the PLC.

 

We were told we could not do a good job of teaching Scoutcraft if we didn't work hard to master it ourselves. At the same time, we were told to be happy if a patrol member became a real wizard on a given Scoutcraft topic and to use him to teach. (Be a leader in Scoutcraft knowledge.")

 

We were told where to go for answers, which came down to more experienced Scouts, adults, and books.

 

The district even ended with a demonstration campfire and we had three campfires at the week-long council training. I especially recall a session of "What makes something funny?" and one on song-leading (a skill that seems to have disappeared from BSA literature and campfire practice).

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I mentioned that "learners" in the first version of Wood Badge were supposed to already know about Scouting methods.  Here are some questions they had to be able to discuss well enough to satisfy staff before they could take the "practical" course:

 

1965

 

3(a) How do you interpret the words of the Scoutmaster's Handbook: "The Scoutmaster's job is not to run HIS troop, but to train his boy leaders to tun THEIR troop"?

 

5. List what you consider might be five obstacles to the use of the patrol method and explain how those obstacles can be overcome.

 

11. ... [How would you] tell [a Scoutmaster] how he can make the patrol method a reality in his troop.

 

1969

3. Added comment for staff grading question 3 (above): "This is the heart of citizenship training on the troop level.  The writer should  indicate that he realizes this and has thought about the theory behind the statement as well as its meaning." 

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But my point was that servant lifestyle of leadership doesn't have to be taught or guided once the culture is set. The older role models instilled the attitude and leadership habits to the younger scouts simply by their actions. 

 

At the same time, if the scouts are showing some bad leadership habits, skills, or styles that aren't necessarily scout like or desired, it takes outside intervention to change culture and is done best by guiding the change at the older scout role models.

 

 

My boys find that the servant leadership role taken by the older boys is quickly recognized and the leader's popularity rises quickly for positive common benefit reasons, not personal gain, political reasons.  Boys quickly recognize this and peer pressure usually settles these issues far better than adult intervention.

 

What both of you are saying is that once it's in place it's easy to keep going. That's fine. But what if you start with a troop that doesn't have it in place? I honestly do not see many troops with at least patrols cooking on their own, so I suspect there is very little scout leadership. Isn't this one of the best ways for scouts to learn the main aim of scouting? And yet, there's no help. The BSA courses do not cover this. We've beaten that dead horse. I agree that a power point presentation would be a waste.  Stosh's "take care of your scouts" is a start but I'm finding that needs more. Eagledad did say this is a great time for the SM to step in. I agree. That's what I'm doing, but it's trial and error and I'd like to speed things up.

 

Historically, character has been taught via stories. Scouts like stories. Maybe a bunch of SM minutes based on a couple of mythical patrols? Maybe that's how to explain servant leadership. And we could throw in some good ol' Mark Twain style adventure. Rafts. Out on their own. Dealing with wild animals and bad weather. All the things we can't do anymore. Just to get their interest. We could even throw in aliens. How about steampunk?

 

 

I think you are right with this. I have another theory as to why the scouts struggle with this, and it is that most people these days seem to look out for themselves first, others second (if at all).

 

Side Note: While I was having this conversation, one of *our* newly minted Scouts (crossed over three weeks previously) walked over, picked up the remaining packs and brought them to the shelter. He notified the adult in charge he "found" the packs, brought them to safety and wanted to find the owners. ;)

Kudos to the young scout, but he's an exception. My theory is character development stops after kindergarten. Play fair, put your toys away, don't bother people, do as the teacher says. That's kindergarten. That's were all the scouts are that enter my troop. Take care of someone? Unless they take care of younger siblings they don't have to. Maybe their dog.

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I mentioned that "learners" in the first version of Wood Badge were supposed to already know about Scouting methods.  Here are some questions they had to be able to discuss well enough to satisfy staff before they could take the "practical" course:

 

1965

 

3(a) How do you interpret the words of the Scoutmaster's Handbook: "The Scoutmaster's job is not to run HIS troop, but to train his boy leaders to tun THEIR troop"?

 

5. List what you consider might be five obstacles to the use of the patrol method and explain how those obstacles can be overcome.

 

11. ... [How would you] tell [a Scoutmaster] how he can make the patrol method a reality in his troop.

 

1969

3. Added comment for staff grading question 3 (above): "This is the heart of citizenship training on the troop level.  The writer should  indicate that he realizes this and has thought about the theory behind the statement as well as its meaning." 

Wow, it really must have been part of the fabric of scouting. I guess there's been a lot of lost knowledge. That's exactly the type of thing I was looking for when I took WB.

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Yes.  Given that the good words on what the Patrol method is are still here and there in BSA's publications in 2016 but largely missing from the training syllabii, the comment I received that "the Patrol Method has been misplaced" seem to be accurate.  

 

Now if we could just find those folks with "strategic" input. 0___0

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What both of you are saying is that once it's in place it's easy to keep going. That's fine. But what if you start with a troop that doesn't have it in place?

I honestly do not see many troops with at least patrols cooking on their own, so I suspect there is very little scout leadership. Isn't this one of the best ways for scouts to learn the main aim of scouting? And yet, there's no help.

 

MattR - sure one can make that assumption about new units, but that's not necessarily a valid assumption for everyone.  The first troop I was involved with as a SM started with five boys, only two of which had Cub Scout experience.  The other three were just their friends from school.  Within 6 months I had extensive youth leadership in place.  Within 3 years I had 28 boys and was SM with very little to do.  

 

The BSA courses do not cover this. We've beaten that dead horse. I agree that a power point presentation would be a waste.  Stosh's "take care of your scouts" is a start but I'm finding that needs more.

 

I would seriously like to know what it is you're finding that needs more? 

 

Eagledad did say this is a great time for the SM to step in. I agree. That's what I'm doing, but it's trial and error and I'd like to speed things up.

 

I have always found that whenever adults step in to "help" it actually slows things down and along with drinking coffee, I find myself spending more time with keeping the adults out of the way than I do having fun with the boys.  It shouldn't be that way.  I'm thinking the trial and error that is being addressed here is the adult trial and error attempts.  I find that the boys figure things out much quicker when it is THEIR trial and error dynamics in place.

 

Historically, character has been taught via stories. Scouts like stories. Maybe a bunch of SM minutes based on a couple of mythical patrols? Maybe that's how to explain servant leadership. And we could throw in some good ol' Mark Twain style adventure. Rafts. Out on their own. Dealing with wild animals and bad weather. All the things we can't do anymore. Just to get their interest. We could even throw in aliens. How about steampunk?

 

Or one can do a SM minute on "On my honor I will .... help other people at all times."  Then go on to point out that the members of the patrol are other people and that also includes the PL and APL.  It also means they have promised to step up and be a functional Instructor and actually work hard at helping the young boys.  It might also mean something like helping boys from another patrol put their tents up in the rain...at night.  And one can draw the last 15 minutes to emphasize "AT ALL TIMES", not just when one feels like it.  I find that when I take leadership seriously, they do too.

 

Kudos to the young scout, but he's an exception. My theory is character development stops after kindergarten. Play fair, put your toys away, don't bother people, do as the teacher says. That's kindergarten. That's were all the scouts are that enter my troop. Take care of someone? Unless they take care of younger siblings they don't have to. Maybe their dog.

 

I have never assumed character development ends after kindergarten.  I read that book.  It was cute, but virtually useless for real life.  I have had a large number of scouts do a 180 while working late in their scouting career to the point where there's been a major personality shift.  I call it growing up, others might call it something else.  I find that character development changes when they hit high school, again when they leave home, again when they marry, again when they have children, again when those children leave home, again and again and again.  What I do in Scouting is lay the foundation for those development steps to be taken in the right direction.  

 

All my boys know that Tenderfoot Requirement #9 dealing with the Buddy System is a precursor for marriage, not just a swimming buddy or someone to walk you to the latrine.

 

The real key to this whole leadership training is simply telling YOUR story, assuming of course you, yourself are leading by example and that example is servant/service leadership.  :)  Don't just do as I say, do as I do, too.  If the two are the same, you've got all your bases covered. 

 

Your mileage may vary.

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MattR - sure one can make that assumption about new units, but that's not necessarily a valid assumption for everyone. 

 

Sorry, just bad wording. I meant someone starting new with any troop and trying to make it more boy led. If anything I'd think it would be easier to start with a new troop.

 

I would seriously like to know what it is you're finding that needs more? 

 

As I said before, take care of your people means different things to different people. To mom it might mean plow the field so their son has no problems to deal with.

 

... "On my honor I will .... help other people at all times."  Then go on to point out that the members of the patrol are other people and that also includes the PL and APL.  It also means they have promised to step up and be a functional Instructor and actually work hard at helping the young boys.  It might also mean something like helping boys from another patrol put their tents up in the rain...at night.  And one can draw the last 15 minutes to emphasize "AT ALL TIMES", not just when one feels like it.  I find that when I take leadership seriously, they do too.

 

But steampunk is much more fun.

 

I have never assumed character development ends after kindergarten.  

 

Of course not, nobody in scouts has. My point is that's what is walking in our door. Parents won't let it develop and we need to get it up to speed.

 

The real key to this whole leadership training is simply telling YOUR story, assuming of course you, yourself are leading by example and that example is servant/service leadership.  :)  Don't just do as I say, do as I do, too.  If the two are the same, you've got all your bases covered. 

 

Yep, my scouts do watch me. And that's been good. But listen? They are teenagers. That's where the steampunk comes in.

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:)  Okay, I'm 65 years old and I seriously have no idea what steampunk is.  Yes, I looked it up on the internet and I still have no idea what steampunk is.   :)  I'm gonna have to stick with "Take care of your boys." for now.

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:)  Okay, I'm 65 years old and I seriously have no idea what steampunk is.  Yes, I looked it up on the internet and I still have no idea what steampunk is.   :)  I'm gonna have to stick with "Take care of your boys." for now.

I think it has something to do with drinking espresso from a tin cup with fancy 19th century etching on the outside. :?

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Eagledad did say this is a great time for the SM to step in. I agree. That's what I'm doing, but it's trial and error and I'd like to speed things up.

 

I have always found that whenever adults step in to "help" it actually slows things down and along with drinking coffee, I find myself spending more time with keeping the adults out of the way than I do having fun with the boys.  It shouldn't be that way.  I'm thinking the trial and error that is being addressed here is the adult trial and error attempts.  I find that the boys figure things out much quicker when it is THEIR trial and error dynamics in place.

 

 

 

I'm sure it's my age, but what I hear you saying is that even when the troop culture is going opposite of "take care of your boys", the adults should not provide any guidance because the scouts will eventually figure it out? So help me, what will the scouts figure out since nobody is guiding them of what they are doing?

 

You have briefly been a SM twice while on this forum. How many times have you told the forum that you instruct the scouts to "take care of your boys"? Is that instruction by you the SM not adult guidance? Did we misunderstand? 

 

I think it is important because a lot of scouters scan this forum for help and the subject of guiding scouts to make conscious choices in changing their behavior is a challenge for almost all troops and adults. 

 

Barry

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Like most stories, maturity as a scout has a beginning, middle, end. And it repeats for each rank or position the scout holds. (Maybe it's even more cyclical than that.)

  • We scouters are involved at the beginning by giving them a vision. ("Here's what you can do and what you may need ...")
  • The boys are responsible for the middle. ("Alright guys! Let's go for it! I'll draw up the plan, Johnny line up the gear, Billy line up the food, etc ...")
  • We review at the end. ("What went well? What didn't go so well? What should we do differently?")

 

The challenge is maximizing "middle" time so that the beginnings and ends hang on something concrete.

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